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Volume 2, Issue 3                                    University of Houston

Old-school hip-hop artist Rakim proves that he is The Master

By Keenan Singleton
Staff Writer

The Master
Universal Records

Before the blunt-laced voice of the Notorious B.I.G., the socially conscious rhymes of Tupac and the unorthodox freestyles of Jay-Z, there was only one master: Rakim.

After taking a five year hiatus from the world of hip-hop, Rakim returned to the scene in 1997 with the critically and commercially successful The 18th Letter. His newest release, The Master, showcases his second-to-none skills on a 17-track album.

Nicknamed the "God" by his fans and peers, Rakim's fusing of old-school beats, modern content and futuristic rhymes has enabled him to engage his audience for more than a decade.

The first single, "When I B On Tha Mic", is produced by the premier DJ, DJ Premier. The scratch-heavy track is classic Rakim. 

"Ra" fires rhymes about the streets of New York and different people he's met.

The best track on the album might be "Finest Ones," which features producer /DJ extraordinaire Clark Kent.

The song is tailor-made for clubs with an up-tempo beat and shout-outs to respective cities.

Rahzel of the hip-hop group the Roots makes an appearance on "It's A Must." However, the track is somewhat of a disappointment. It isn't either artist's fault. The music is just lacking in originality and flavor.

Another track of note is "Real S -- " which features a thumping bass line and an instrumental loop that's addictive.

Tracks that should be avoided are the grandma-paced "I Know," the uninspired "How I Get Down" and the final track of the album, "We'll Never Stop."

For those who don't believe that Rakim is in fact "the master," it may come as a surprise that LL Cool J and Will Smith are the only other "old-school" rappers from the '80s who are still gold-certified selling artists to this day.

Overall this is not Rakim's best effort. Paid In Full and Letter come to mind, but there are still 10 enjoyable tracks on The Master. B

That's it for now. Happy Holidays to everyone. Peace, see ya later.

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